In today’s NFL, physicality and length is a must at the cornerback position. Teams are constantly looking for shutdown artists who are comfortable playing on the outside.
That being the case, all 32 NFL franchises should have their collective eyes fixed on NC Central’s Bryan Mills.
One of the longest corner prospects in the 2021 NFL draft class, Mills recently spoke exclusively with MCM about how he managed to stay in shape during the lockdown, what he loves most about playing the corner position, and why a Senior Bowl invite would be the ultimate reward for him.
Mills ended this interview by announcing that he’s foregoing his remaining eligibility and declaring for the 2021 NFL Draft.
JM: How have you managed to stay in shape and keep up with your weight training throughout the pandemic?
BM: When I got home, I actually had a trainer out here in Palmdale, California that was working out with me. We were working out together five days a week, Monday through Friday. Now that I’m back on campus, a few of my teammates put me in touch with another trainer here. I’ve been maintaining myself quite well.
JM: We love to hear that. Congratulations on being named to the Senior Bowl’s 250 Watchlist. What did that mean to you, and are you hoping to receive an invite?
BM: I appreciate that. It meant a lot to me. I feel like I’m finally starting to get the recognition I deserve. If I do receive that invite, I just have to go out there and prove myself at the highest level.
JM: How would you describe the way that you play the cornerback position?
BM: I’m a very physical and long-armed corner. My length gives me a huge advantage over the opposition. I play the position with a lot of physicality. I’m a ball-hawk as well.
JM: What do you most enjoy about playing the position?
BM: I enjoy getting aggressive with a receiver. I really enjoy that aspect of it.
JM: What can you tell me about the scheme that NC Central has deployed you in?
BM: We play a lot of man coverage. It's been great for me to get so much experience in man. The NFL is a man coverage league and I’m thankful that I’ve played so much man here at NC Central. I’ve gotten really used to that.
JM: That’s great. NC Central is one of the finest HBCU’s in the nation. You must take a lot of pride in that.
BM: There’s obviously a lot going on in our country right now. I’m very to proud to be at an HBCU right now. It’s a great thing, especially during these trying times. I feel like the NFL will find talent no matter where it is. I’m very glad that I go to a HBCU.
JM: As you should be. Do you approach a bigger, more physical receiver any differently than you do a smaller, shiftier one? I’m curious to hear your thoughts on this because you’re such an aggressive corner.
BM: A big receiver is a bigger target. I have a lot more surface area to potentially get my hands on. With those shiftier guys, quick feet is the key to keeping up with them. They make sudden movements. Those bigger guys just aren’t as quick. That’s how it goes. I find those bigger receivers a little easier to cover. Of course they also pose the threat of being able to box you out.
JM: Will you stay as physical with those smaller guys, or do you give yourself a little more room to work with?
BM: I tend to give myself a little more space with those smaller guys. I’ll still be physical with them, but I do play them a little bit more off than I do those bigger guys.
JM: That makes sense. Are there any cornerbacks that you grew up watching and admiring? Do you watch tape on any current corners?
BM: I’ve been watching a lot of Darius Slay as of late. His technique and fundamentals are so incredible. He’s such a smart cornerback to watch and learn from. He’s so smooth. He’s such a free flower.
JM: That’s a great player to learn from and study. When you go through the NFL Draft process a few months from now, it’s inevitable that somebody is going to call you a “small school guy.” You’ve probably already heard it. How do you typically respond to that?
BM: It’s just a title at the end of the day. Whether you play at LSU or for a HBCU, it’s just a title. You still have to go out there and play football. I don’t get offended by that at all. It makes me wanna go harder.
JM: We respect your response to that. I’ve appreciated your time today, Bryan. In closing, what’s next for Bryan Mills?
BM: I’m actually opting out of this season. I’m gonna opt out and forego my remaining eligibility. I won’t be playing in the spring football season. I’m declaring for the 2021 NFL Draft.